Pet neglect up by 10% last year: SPCA

In a statement to the media, the SPCA said 70 per cent of the 1,027 cases of alleged cruelty to animals it investigated involved neglected pets.

These included rabbits, which were largely left unattended and in cages outside the owners' houses, dogs and cats in small cages, dogs tied up for long periods and sick pets left untreated.

Despite SPCA's investigations and advice to the owners, less than 30 per cent of them made improvements to their pets' living conditions.

These owners cited reasons such as lack of time or that their pets were already used to the current living conditions.

"As the SPCA does not have enforcement powers, the more serious cases, or those where no improvements were made, were referred to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority for further action," said the SPCA.

The society believed that the increase is the result of owners not taking the appropriate measures and responsibility needed when having a pet.

"It is our opinion that many owners want to enjoy the perceived fun experience of owning a pet, but are not bothered to accept or take on the accompanying responsibility.

"A common example from the cases we have investigated is that it doesn't seem to cross the mind of many owners to bring their pets to the veterinarian for regular visits to keep them healthy," it said. 

SPCA also attributed insufficient education at the point of sale to much of the problem, where the animals' needs were not properly communicated to new pet owners.

It said in the written statement: "For example, cages are often sold together with dogs, and owners are advised to train the animals in them but in the SPCA's experience, the cage often becomes the dog's permanent home, and a welfare issue results."

At an upcoming Animal Welfare Symposium and Public Forum on Animal Welfare Policies on February 25, the SPCA will be presenting an overview on Animal Cruelty Legislation Change.

A spokesperson from the society said: "This will focus on why we need our animal cruelty laws enhanced and that the issue of pet neglect is a serious one and needs to be addressed."

The symposium will be held at Chong Pang Community Club.

dassa@sph.com.sg